Tajikistan - Air Force
The CIA World Factbook reports the Tajik military (as of 2010) consisted of Ground Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces, Mobile Forces. Tajik sources report the armed forces consist of Land Forces, Mobile Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces, Presidential National Guard, and Security Forces (internal and border troops). Air and Air-Defense Forces were united in 2005.
Through the mid-1990s, Tajikistan did not have an air force but relied instead on Russian air power; however, the Dushanbe government voiced the intention of purchasing some helicopters for military use and forming an air force squadron. By 2007 the air force had about 800 troops. At that time the air force had four combat and 12 support helicopters. The unit structure of the air force is unknown.
Tajikistan is part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Joint Air Defence System. Its national airspace is monitored and patrolled by the Russian Air Force, as no indigenous air defence capabilities are in place. While some surface-to-air missiles have been transferred to the Tajik Army, there is no coherent network of air defence posts and stations. Russia appears to have opposed Tajik ideas for developing a more capable air arm of its own, as Moscow has repeatedly declined to supply fighter aircraft or assist the local military with modernising air traffic control and radar facilities. Russia appears to take the view that its own air force contingent at Gissar and in Kazakhstan is sufficient to ensure adequate security in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan does not face a threat of attack from the air, so the development of a meaningful air defence capability has not been a priority. The modest number of combat-capable helicopters primarily are tasked with search and rescue and airlift, but have at times been employed in air attacks on opposition forces. Dushanbe receives only modest foreign military assistance and has no funding available for procurement [much less maintenance] of fixed-wing combat aircraft. Moscow bolstered Tajikistan's rotary wing capability by providing six Mi-8 and Mi-24 attack helicopters in 2006-07. It also provided four L-39 training aircraft during this timeframe, which were on the tarmac at Gissar in mid-2010.
In October 2010, one of the Tajik Air Force's Mi-8MTB 'Hip-H' helicopters crashed during security operations in the Rasht valley, reportedly as a result of technical faults, although media reports have indicated the helicopter was brought down by militants. An official statement confirmed four deaths and said the helicopter crashed after hitting a powerline. By some reports at least 27 servicemen were killed when the Tajik National Guard helicopter crashed in the mountainous Rasht valley in eastern Tajikistan. About 20 member of elite units of the Alpha National Security State Committee and seven members of the National Guard, including a colonel and two lieutenant-colonels were among those killed.
A military parade dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the formation of Tajikistan’s Armed Forces took place in Dushanbe on 23 February 2013. Twenty combat aircraft and helicopters flew over the Dousti Square on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Tajik National Army.
Mauritius and Tajikistan present unique cases of India’s defense relationships as both involve the only operational basing of Indian military outside of India. Mauritius has a defense agreement that has been in place since 1974 whereby the Indian Navy provides military leadership to the Mauritius Coast Guard on deputation. India has also transferred naval vessels and equipment to Mauritius over the years. More recently, India has signed a basing agreement with Tajikistan that gives it access to a Tajik Air Force Base that is also shared with the Russians.
Under a trilateral defence agreement with Tajikistan and Russia, the runway was extended, perimeter fencing secured and aircraft hangars built. Lying dilapidated since 1985, this airbase was used by the former Soviet Union during its Afghan campaign. Under the trilateral agreement, India, Russia and Tajikistan will have command and control of the air base by rotation. Ayni’s use is limited by the fact that India has no direct access to Tajikistan with part of Kashmir and Northern Areas being controlled by Pakistan.
The renovated Ayni airfield belonging to the Tajik Ministry of Defense was officially opened on September 3, 2010. India contributed 70 million USD toward the renovation and sent specialists to help with the work. The airfield, located some 20 kilometers west of Dushanbe, now has state-of-the-art navigational and defense technology. Its runway was also extended to 3,200 meters so that all types of aircraft can land there.
India has reportedly provided 5.5 million U.S. dollars worth of no-strings aid to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) of Tajikistan. Faridoun Mahmadaliyev, a spokesman for a MoD, says representatives from India’s Defense Ministry handed over one Russian helicopter MI-8 and six military transport trucks to the Tajik side on 16 February 2013. “The helicopter and the trucks were donated in a no-strings aid,” Mahmadaliyev said.
On January 27, 2011, Tajik Foreign Minister, Hamrokhon Zarifi, announced that Dushanbe and Moscow had different views on “certain issues” related to the use of the airfield. Some experts consider that the differences apparently stem from Moscow’s intention to secure exclusive use of the airbase, while Dushanbe insists on joint use.
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